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Ministers’ statements on borders expose depth of racism and extremism in Israeli politics

Israel’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, has claimed that the state’s borders “extend from the Jordan River to the western border”, which is, of course, the Mediterranean Sea. He told an Israeli news channel that he rejects the establishment of another state “based on the 1967 borders”.


This, along with Israel’s colonial-settlement policy is entirely consistent with “the teachings of the Torah” he believes.

The extreme right-wing minister was speaking at the opening of a synagogue on an illegal Israeli settlement-colony in the occupied West Bank. “You are the good people who represent the Torah,” he told the settlers.

This statement is just one of many racist and extreme statements made by Uri Ariel; he said recently that a Jewish temple should be built in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state is just “a myth”. Moreover, during a press conference the Israeli Minister held at the Shilo colony in the occupied West Bank, he said that the Israelis have built many temples, but they need to build what he called “the real temple on Temple Mount”, which was a reference to the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, wherein stands Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Commenting on Ariel’s statement about the state of Israel extending from the river to the sea, the Arab Deputy Speaker of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, said that it indicates that extremism and racism are now part of the mainstream in public life. Dr Ahmad Tibi, who is also the leader of the Arab Movement for Renewal, described both characteristics as going against all legal norms and agreements. “Extremism exists at the very top of the political pyramid in Israel,” he added.

In a related context, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home Party and Israeli Minister of the Economy, expressed his belief that the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River will cause Israel “100 years of continuous war, will flood the Jewish state with millions of Palestinian refugees, and will increase international isolation”.

Moreover, Bennett posted on his Facebook page that he believe that such a Palestinian state will be poor and hostile, “such as the state established in Gaza in 2005”, the actions of which are still “hostile and extremely dangerous”. Such a state, he said, will be a 30-second flight from Ben-Gurion International Airport and 10 minutes away from the city of Petah Tikva, located in the centre of the self-styled Jewish state.

Bennett went on to say that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005 gave the state “thousands of missiles and a terrorist state run by Hamas”. He also wrote that the two-state solution Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was committed to in his speech at Bar-Ilan University is not applicable and, therefore, “an alternative to planting a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel must be found”. Nevertheless, his party will not prevent or oppose any negotiations with the Palestinians despite its lack of faith in them. Furthermore, he called on the majority of the Likud members of Knesset to sabotage the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, noting that Israel is making concessions that go against the principles of the Likud Party during the rounds of talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Bennett called on 7 of the 11 Likud MKs to stop negotiations; subsequently, the members sent a letter to the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Danny Danon, who is also Deputy Minister of Defence, urging him to hold a meeting for Likud Party members.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the members told Danon that the Israeli government headed by Likud is engaging in political negotiations which include Israel’s agreement to a list of concessions that clash with the party’s principles mentioned in its charter. The letter also mentioned the demand that Likud MKs be allowed to express their initial positions on these matters in the Knesset.

It is worth noting that Danon has now called for the immediate cancellation of the Oslo Accords, the announcement that the agreement has failed, and the acknowledgement that it was a mistake. He is on record of telling the New York Times that 20 years down the line from Oslo the Israelis and Palestinians are still in negotiations. “True peace seems far away,” he insisted, “just as it was before the disclosure of the secret talks in Oslo.” The Israeli government, stressed Danon, must put an end to this “foolishness” immediately.

In this, we must agree with Danon, for the evidence from the mouths of senior Israeli politicians is clear; peace looks less likely than ever before and the Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land is increasing daily. A Zionist state from the river to the sea is already a near-reality because of Israel’s illegal settlements and military occupation, and the government is insisting that a “final” agreement with the Palestinians would insist on keeping Israeli soldiers based in the Jordan Valley. Israel’s racism and extremism, when coupled with its expansionism, look set to make sure that a truly viable Palestinian state on the 1967 borders is just never going to happen.

Source: El Shaab Newspaper, Egypt, 26 September, 2103

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